Current Edition

current edition

Editor’s Note: This letter was originally sent to Michelle Panos, policy advisor to Governor Matt Mead, Michael T. Kahler, senior assistant attorney general, and Patrick Neely of Encore Gaming Group on Oct. 22 via email.

To the Editor:

As you know, on Oct. 2, based on an Attorney General’s (AG) Opinion, the Wyoming Pari-mutuel Commission (WPC) revoked its prior approval of Race Tech-supplied historic race (HR) machines and games. The AG’s opinion indicated that the machines, although previously approved by WPC and AG, did not comply with Wyoming law. Unfortunately, in reliance on the original approval, Wyoming Downs acquired, at a cost of over $5 million, HR machines for use in Wyoming.

As a result of the revoking of the prior approval, Wyoming Downs was forced to suspend operations in a number of locations. The suspension has led to the layoff of 45 employees. In addition the 2016 live race season is now in jeopardy. Revenue from the HR machines funded purses and the cost of the live race days. In 2015 Wyoming Downs ran 16 live race days. The purses and revenue generated for the trainers and breeders are a direct function of the use of the HR machines. Without a solution that allows the HR operators to reopen, the horse industry in the state will suffer greatly, and the race industry will probably cease to exist in the state. As you are well aware, the revenue that was going to local municipalities has also stopped.

Wyoming Downs management and remaining employees are working feverishly on a solution that would save the live race days in 2016.

In addition, we understand the WPC is evaluating alternative HR machines in the hopes of finding a machine that operates in a manner that is consistent with the AG’s opinion. Wyoming Downs is concerned that any additional HR machines be vetted through a process that includes securing an AG opinion before millions are spent acquiring the new software and new machines. Wyoming Downs cannot afford to invest millions in reliance of WPC’s approval when that approval can be revoked at a later date based on an AG opinion obtained after the acquisition.

We understand that other manufacturers currently in discussions with the WPC supply games that raise questions as they relate to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc.’s (ARCI) referenced model rules.

Each of these questions and concerns should be fully vetted and addressed by the AG and the WPC so that the operators and the players know that they are acting within the bounds of the law. Wyoming Downs cannot risk the purchase and the customers should not be exposed to a new version of the HR machine, which is subject to a later determination that the machine did not operate within the law.

Let’s put the horseracing back into Wyoming by working together. I hope to give a weekly update to all parties!

Respectfully,

Eric Nelson

Manager

Wyoming Downs, LLC

To the Editor:

The recent sale of the Y-Cross Ranch has received attention around the state and region. The endowment that will be created from the sale offers many tremendous opportunities for the students and faculty in the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.   

It has been roughly estimated that the annual income would approach $400,000 per year. These funds will provide for our undergraduate and graduate students via scholarships, internships, hands-on or field-learning experiences and for faculty activities related to students and agriculture. Overall, these programs will benefit not only our students but, as a product of the efforts, the entire agricultural and natural resources community in the state and region through new discoveries by our students and faculty that can be applied to agriculture and the landscape.  

The decision to sell the ranch was not easy. This college was involved by the Foundation in the decision to make the sale from the beginning. Though the ranch did provide opportunities for a few faculty and students and also for a few scholarships, it became clear to me, as Dean of the college, that the sale of the ranch would benefit many more students and faculty over the long-term. Thus, we made the mutual decision to move forward.   

Throughout the process, I found that our partners in the UW Foundation Board and staff to have been hard-working and of the highest integrity.  Special thanks from all of us in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources must go to Frank Mendocino and John Clay. Those two board members worked countless hours on all of our behalf to achieve our goal.  

The funds mentioned above will be allocated to student scholarships, student experience-based learning and faculty activities according to the original agreement  with the donor. We are most grateful to the donor Mr. Courtney C. Davis and will work hard to realize the vision in the process of training the next generation of students in agriculture and natural resources.   

Sincerely,

Frank Galey

Dean

University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

To the Editor:

Our life situation often takes me back to Mathew 8:26 when Jesus and his disciples were out at sea and suddenly a storm blew up, threatening to sink their boat. Jesus got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop, and there was a great calm. My parents advised my sister and me that we are never alone in life’s journey.

Last year, Mexico imported highly subsidized sugar into the U.S. market. Excess sugar imported from Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) cost U.S. government $250 million, in 2014. The excess sugar coming into the U.S. breaks the 2008 farm bill provision of the sugar program.

To be fair to sugar farmers, the U.S. and Mexican governments had reached reasonable settlement.  American sugar growers were disappointed because the Department of Commerce (DOC) decided to continue investigating the Mexican sugar industry despite that the vast majority of parties involved, including the U.S. and Mexican governments, counting on their March agreement to monitor imports of subsidized sugar in to the U.S. market. 

Once again I prayed for help because the sugar industry, which is an important sector of America’s agriculture, was under scrutiny.

On March 19, 2015 our prayers were answered. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) honored the agreements between the United States and Mexican governments to stop subsidized Mexican sugar from being dumped onto the U.S. market. The ITC was asked to determine whether the government’s settlement adequately removed the injury caused by unfairly-traded Mexican sugar

Farmers invest in their crops. Crude oil prices have driven the cost of fertilizer, fuel, chemical, parts and tires sky high and has remained at the same level since 2009. According to American Sugar Alliance (ASA), the International Sugar Organization examined wholesale sugar prices in 80 countries and found that other developed nations have paid, on average, 41 cents per pound for sugar over the past 10 years. By comparison, the current U.S. price is 34 cents per pound, which is almost identical to current world averages. Agriculture exports hit a record high $152.5 billion in January of 2015.

I love my beloved America and pray to God to keep this country independent. U.S. farms have been here to provide food and jobs and to bring our country back to its feet. Farmers and their lands have always protected our nation’s security. America needs to protect her first industry, which is agriculture. There will be storms in our life and they will threaten America’s independence. We have to keep our faith and pray, as in Mathew 8:23, and Jesus will answer prayers.   

Sincerely,

Klodette Stroh

WIFE National Sugar Chairman

Powell

To the Editor:

Water is the property of the state. The water of all natural streams, springs, lakes or other collections of still water, within the boundaries of the state, are hereby declared to be the property of the state. -Constitution of the State of Wyoming, Article 8 Section 1

Wyoming is a headwater state, and our water is important to the entire nation. We have waters that feed to the west and to the south, touching both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Water is also incredibly important to our way of life. We place a high value on water not just for personal sustenance, but for our agriculture, ranching and industrial industries.

State sovereignty is the backbone of the United States of America. The current administration’s attitude of “Washington knows best” has pervaded their policies again and again and permeated their treatment of states. They have reduced mineral royalty payments to states, mandated changes to wildlife management strategies and now they are seeking to broaden the scope of the Clean Water Act by redefining “waters of the United States.”

Water has always been a resource within state control. The Wyoming State Constitution highlights the need for states to control their own water to ensure the interests of all involved are equally guarded. With the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, water within the state’s borders, not considered “navigable,” was left to state management. The purpose of the Act was to protect the quality of interstate waters. It is now morphing into another tool for the federal government to impose new regulatory burdens across the landscape.  

The “waters of the United States” is a proposed rule to expand the federal regulatory and permitting power of the EPA by redefining which waterways they can control under the Clean Water Act. The states were not consulted or asked for input when building this rule. The EPA used public comments from a previous proposal to help outline this initiative, but did not complete any further due diligence.

This rule has the potential to affect tributaries, riparians, flood plains, small streams and even dry stream beds. It would create over-burdensome regulation and permitting on stormwater management systems and industrial ponds. This rule would place the burden of compliance on landowners, whose ditches and creeks currently fall outside federal jurisdiction, making them prove that they are in accordance with federal standards.

States should have been consulted early and often for such an expansive rule change to the Clean Water Act. This is a prime example of federal overreach. It is an overreach through rules and regulations. The EPA could not get this proposed rule passed through Congress, so instead of relying on the democratic process, they are looking to change the definition of waterways and, therefore, giving themselves unlimited control over Wyoming water.

We applaud Governor Mead for taking the initiative and developing a water strategy. Outlining initiatives for water management, development, conservation and restoration shows our commitment to Wyoming water and the blueprint of how we intend to continue managing it. As the Legislature, we have appropriated $9 million for constructing and upgrading water development projects. Water is an area where we have, and will continue, to jealously guard Wyoming’s interest.

Wyoming is fighting regulatory overreach by managing our waters effectively, working with the Governor to ensure that his proposed water strategy continues to move Wyoming water forward, and pushing back against the federal government to ensure we can manage Wyoming water with Wyoming solutions. Multiple agencies within the state and the region, including the Governor’s office, have sent comment letters to the EPA calling for the withdrawal of this rule.   

Wyoming constantly clashes with the federal government for the ability to solve Wyoming problems with Wyoming solutions. States have the right to regulate the water within their boundaries and we will continue to fight for Wyoming water, Wyoming’s life blood. 

Sincerely,

 Senator Eli Bebout, Majority Floor Leader, and

 Representative Tim Stubson, Speaker Pro Tempore

Co-chairs of the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee